Material for inflatable toy system


I am currently working on a project and I need any information on PVC sheet or Vinyl sheet suppliers. I am making a product out of the material pool floats are made from. I have found some manufacturers but they have a large minimum order. I am looking for an assortment of colors and thickness ranging from .008-.020.

Please help- Thanks :unamused:

I’ve had similar problems finding colored vinly. You can buy clear vinyl sheet at most fabric stores (but it’s probably .015’‘-.020’’ at the thinnest). As far as coloring it, you might try Krylon Fusion paint, though I don’t know how well it stands up to stretching. Vinyl Dye paint like Plasticote’s Ultra Vinyl Color are also worth a try. Here’s a tutorial you might find helpful.

If you ever find a source for the really thin stuff, be sure to let us know.

Hey- Thanks for the reply. I found some transparent and opaque vinyl, so that should work out. I also might be getting some scraps from a vinyl manufacturer :smiley: Thanks for your help!

Thanks for sharing. I am looking to develop a small series of inflatable products too and am interested in any literature or experience people have on the topic of how to get from 2D to 3D complex shapes. Tubular shapes are quite straightforward, but what if we want to develop, say, a large inflatable horse?


I looked for similar processes a while ago – I found two, both Rhino 5 plugins:
LAMINA Reasonable cost
ExactFlat Expensive

Hi Ralph,

Air inflation will always follow the second law of thermodynamics, entropy can only increase over time in a closed system. That is the physics behind making 2D shapes into 3D shapes with air inflation. Pretty worthless practically.

But for your horse, let’s talk about what you can do. Obviously, you can make a leg with a bend 2D and have the top wider than the ankle to be more realistic. The trick will be in attaching the “cylinder” leg to the “cylinder” torso. I hope this makes sense, but in some case you could be welding with 3 pieces of material in the equipment when you only want to weld 2 pieces of material. It is an easy trick to use a thin piece of teflon sheet between the 2 pieces of material you don’t want to bond. But you need to make sure you don’t “trap” the teflon in the finished good. Your manufacturing steps need planning.

Ways to make shapes not always “cylinders” pretty much comes down to 2 methods. Spot welding between the seams. This will create a tufting effect. The other is to use flat gussets between your two primary sheets. For example, imagine how they wrap aluminum (your primary sheet(s)) around the the multiple frame elements (gussets) that make the wing profile. The only downside is you will see the weld marks of the gussets on your primary sheets.

Like I mentioned in the other thread, get a roller sealer, teflon film and PE film from McMaster and experiment. It’s fun.

Depending on material size needs, it may be beneficial to buy a few low cost pool floats and cannibalize them for your tests/prototypes. at the end of the summer, places like walmart and target are selling their floats at a heavy discount, almost $1.00

Helium balloons at the supermarket would also be a good source of inspiration/research to look at how the seams are designed to create different forms.

Just make sure you think through where the inlet is placed! I saw this in a store a while back and it made me do a double take. I feel like this was a serious oversight… :open_mouth:

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that is a great tip. I appreciate also your short review of Marvelous you did.

There is also Ivy for Grasshopper, free for commercial use. It is more geared towards papercraft, but still nice.